Tendon Tissue Team: LeeAnn Hold
Senior, Biological Engineering
Hometown: El Dorado Hills, California
LeeAnn’s Hands-On Experience is Made Possible Through:
LeeAnn’s research is partially funded through a National Institutes of Health grant. She was also a 2018 Beckman Scholar. Students receive up to $21,000 over the course of two summers and an academic year to conduct undergraduate research. An additional $5,000 goes to the lab in which the student is conducting research.
Load-bearing tendons, like a human Achilles tendon, are constantly being subjected to different levels of force as we walk, run and move.
Enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs within these tendons are continually at work breaking down and rebuilding the internal structure of connective tissues within the tendon.
“Think of it kind of like a scaffold of a building that provides extra support,” LeeAnn Hold said. “These enzymes are able to break down and rebuild this scaffolding in order to optimize the environment for your tendons.”
A Beckman Scholar beginning in the summer of 2018, Hold’s research has focused on how MMPs work and how the same biochemical processes could potentially be used down the road in tendon tissue development.
“Right now, the only way to repair your tendon is to sew it back together,” she said. “Think of that like trying to sew together two paintbrushes. It’s impossible.”
Hold was in the Navy for three years and thought about going into nursing before choosing biological engineering at the U of I.
“Using math and biology at the same time, it’s such a cool bridge between the two,” she said.